Tuesday, May 24 2022

After hours of playing Fortnite with U.S. men’s national teammates Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and Aaron Long, Walker Zimmeramn finally got the chance to pay tribute with a goal celebration on Wednesday against Honduras.

Zimmerman’s goal in the 37th minute at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, was the second of three USMNT goals, leading to a 3-0 win in a Concacaf World Cup qualifier, completing the current window with a 2-1-0 record and 6-2-3 overall (21 points).

Midfielder Weston McKennie headed in the first goal in the 8th minute on a whipped-in set piece from Kellyn Acosta. Christian Pulisic, who entered the match as a substitute just two minutes earlier, tapped in a bobbling ball in the penalty area in the 67th minute for his 18th international goal.

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Wednesday’s match concludes the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying window against an already-eliminated Honduras, who are last place in the Concacaf standings. The match concluded in 2-degree weather, the coldest the U.S. has played on home soil in this century.

Here are observations from the match:

Set piece resurrection

The U.S. had not scored on a set piece in World Cup qualifying before Acosta’s pristine cross into McKennie. Against a struggling Honduras side, it scored three with relative ease.

A key change was Acosta being designated as the USMNT’s set-piece taker, a role usually assigned to Pulisic. The latter does not have an assist during this World Cup qualifying cycle, and none since the 2019 Gold Cup. Acosta had three combined assists and key passes on Wednesday, despite the Honduras match being Acosta’s first start since November in a qualifier at Jamaica.

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Midfield masterclass

A midfield trio of Acosta, McKennie and 23-year-old Luca de la Torre dictated every fortunate event for the U.S., particularly in the first and including each goal the U.S. scored Wednesday.

Acosta, who had the most international caps in the starting lineup (48), spelled midfield maestro Tyler Adams (right hamstring). With his opportunity, Acosta made four key passes — those which lead to a shot — as well as nailing 86% of his passes, with 40 of his 55 accurate passes completed in the Hondurans’ half. The U.S. is 2-1-1 in qualifying when Acosta starts.

The youngster, de la Torre, made his first start for the U.S. in just his fifth match for his country. The San Diego native, who plays in the Netherlands for Heracles Almelo, completed 89% of his passes and won all six of his 1-on-1 duels.

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Qualifying for the World Cup

A 3-0 win for the U.S. marks six points out of a possible nine during this window, with just three matches remaining in qualifying, and arguably the most challenging.

As the USMNT remains second in Concacaf, the U.S. must face rivals Mexico in Mexico City on March 24 at Estadio Azteca — where the U.S. has never won in qualifying. The final two qualifiers are at home to Panama on March 27 in Orlando, followed by a finale at Costa Rica on March 30.

Canada remains in first place and undefeated, which means there are only two remaining automatic bids to the World Cup in Qatar.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: USMNT blanks Honduras in frigid World Cup qualifier


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